Male yellowhead jawfish are the 'Mr. Moms' of the ocean

The yellowhead jawfish is a small, but beautiful fish that can be found throughout the Caribbean. It seems to levitate over the sand, ready to dart backwards into a hole if it perceives danger. These fish create burrows by excavating sand and small pebbles with their mouths until they have a hole big enough to hide inside. Divers are delighted to find these fish in groups on the ocean bottom. Often compared with small fairies, the wispy, white fish slowly rise up vertically and away from their holes to snatch shrimp, small fish, or plankton from the water. They can nimbly dart back in with precision in an instant and scuba divers must move very slowly in order to get a close look at these wonderful creatures. One of the most fascinating things about these fish is that the male cares for the eggs, incubating them in his mouth for several weeks. At precise intervals, the jawfish will spit out the egg mass and rotate it before inhaling it back into his mouth. This provides aeration, crucial for the survival of the eggs. The male and female look alike, except when the male is carrying the eggs. At this time, two distinct black lines are obvious on his throat as his jaws and throat expand to accommodate the eggs. While incubating the eggs, the male is unable to feed. By the time his job is done, the male jawfish is actually underweight. This fish was filmed on the sand near Turneffe Caye in Belize.

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